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Kenseth's accident avoidance pays off in the end

October 08, 2012, Mark Aumann, NASCAR.com



Kenseth's accident avoidance pays off in the end

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- For 499 miles Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, Matt Kenseth did everything but wreck. But when the big wreck eventually occurred, Kenseth was in a position to where he was neither responsible -- or perhaps more surprisingly, involved.

And even after celebrating in Victory Lane, Kenseth pretty much credited luck and a fast car for keeping him out of harm's way all day.

A car that's on the edge of going out of control can be termed "wrecking loose." Kenseth's No. 17 Ford might not have been that bad Sunday, but he certainly had his moments -- at least three that were picked up on television and perhaps just as many near-misses that weren't.

Several times, Kenseth wound up going from the lead to the middle of the pack, but it didn't take him long to get back to the front.

"I'm really proud to be in Victory Lane with these guys. They worked on it hard today."

--MATT KENSETH

"We had a lot of speed today, more than I thought we had," Kenseth said. "There were just certain spots on the track I couldn't run and make it work. We were really loose and we were on the bottom and I had people pushing me and people outside of me it was just really hard to control.

"The track kept getting looser for me as the day went on and we never could get it tightened up. On the last lap, that's why I chose the middle groove. I knew I couldn't be on the bottom or I'd get spun out, so I had to run the middle or the top to try to make a move."

On Lap 42, Kenseth made the save of the day when he got an unexpected bump from Roush-Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle while running in the lead and wound up on the track apron.

"I was trying to go to the bottom, but not that far," Kenseth said. "That's one of those I'd love to take the credit for but it's pretty much lucky. I just kind of held the wheel and the car sort of caught itself and thankfully we were able to straighten it out with no damage.

On Lap 147, he fish-tailed in traffic but didn't hit anybody after contact with Jeff Gordon. And right after the final restart, Kenseth and Clint Bowyer banged sidepanels -- sending Bowyer down below the double yellow line -- but both cars somehow stayed in a straight line.

"Honestly, I thought I was clear," Kenseth said. "We had a pretty good run on the outside. I knew it was going to be close. I thought we were clear and I looked. I started moving. I kept moving. I didn't feel anything.

"We were all the way to the yellow line before we touched. As soon as we touched, I moved back up, but he was already slowed down just enough."

And when Tony Stewart slid down in front of Michael Waltrip, touching off the 25-car pileup coming into the final turn, Kenseth was in position to not only miss the melee, but have clear sailing to the start/finish line.

According to owner Jack Roush, Kenseth had the lead going into the final lap of every race at Daytona and Talladega in 2012. With Sunday's victory, he won twice -- and felt like with 20-20 hindsight, he could have easily swept all four.

"The plate stuff has just been unbelievable this year," Kenseth said. "All four plate races they put me in a position to win, and I felt like I let them down here last time on the move I made or didn't make. At Daytona, again, we had a shot to win that thing and messed it up at the end and got beat by Tony.

"I'm really proud to be in Victory Lane with these guys. They worked on it hard today. We had an up and down day. We had a couple of near-misses on the track, and had to work our way back through the pack two or three times. We had the car pretty loose and pretty tough at times. But glad it all worked out for us in the end."

Kenseth will be leaving Roush-Fenway at the end of the season, but not without impressing the boss one last time.

"Matt did a nice job today," Roush said. "He had a couple of occasions where he could have wound up on his roof or on his side, and he managed to have the presence to be able not to do that. The presence and skill not to let that happen, and he wound up [winning]."